The Impact of Culture: Our Hospital's Journey to Designation as a Baby Friendly Hospital


Poster Presentation

Purpose for the Program

To demonstrate the link between hospital culture, nursing practice, and implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Best nursing practices are those that combine art and science. There is evidence for specific hospital practices that will promote breastfeeding success. However, a hospital's culture can greatly affect and influence breastfeeding success from early pregnancy through the postpartum period. There is an intricate relationship between best practices in our maternity setting with care that is holistic and patient centered. Practices that are ingrained into our culture include all of the elements of the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding as supported by the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The ability of the nurse to integrate the science of lactation with the nuances of the human response to labor and birth is the foundation for breastfeeding success.

Proposed Change

Change practices within the maternity setting to promote successful breastfeeding.

Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation

Implementation of best practices throughout the birthing and postpartum continuum to support optimal breastfeeding for newborns. Evaluation of success is through achieving designation as a Baby-Friendly hospital. Our process toward designation in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative made us realize that our culture, which supports an environment that trusts the birth process, provided a foundation that empowers patients to be successful. Practices that are influenced by nursing, including early initiation of breastfeeding and skin-to-skin care; promoting rooming-in; and delaying the bath, create an environment where breastfeeding is promoted. The importance of an environment where the health care team is knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding has been studied. However, the translation of the knowledge into practice, while integrating the individual needs of each mother–infant dyad is key to empowering mothers and achieving best outcomes.

Hospital practices affect both the art and science of breastfeeding. Our model of care supports a family's needs during this developmentally important time. A culture where birth is seen as a normal process is essential to promote physiologic changes for lactation and bonding of the mother–infant dyad. Recognizing that each mother–infant dyad is unique with individual experiences, while using evidence to promote best practice enables mothers to achieve success with breastfeeding.

Implications for Nursing Practice

Nurses are the key to ensuring that hospital practices promote breastfeeding. Nurses have the knowledge to integrate the science of lactation with the nuances of each patient's experience to achieve breastfeeding success.